When working on a project with a fixed delivery date, its critical to keep your eye on the timeline. And experience shows that most changes to the timeline push dates into the future. Folks tend to be optimistic when planning, and when individual tasks are faced, they take longer to complete than expected, leading to frequent late deliveries.
We recently launched a website for an international NGO. Stakeholders had specified an immovable launch date, and the same stakeholders contributed the common future-ward shift of intermediate delivery dates. Our task was to build the site upon delivery of the content and graphic design. The delay of these resulting in a collision course between the immoveable launch date and the possible delivery date.
How did we deal with being placed between a rock and a hard place? We used basic project management skills, evoking the PM Triangle.
The delayed deliverables essentially compressed the schedule for our activities. So, pulling out our handy triangle, we can assert that changing our schedule will necessarily impact the Cost and/or Scope. We started by proposing reduced scope, essentially removing features to allow us deliver on time. This was not necessarily leading to simpler result, but possibly we could deliver the remaining features at a later date. Our client was understanding, and we proceeded. It turned out that we also had to increase cost, because content and design changes continued after we started building the site, resulting in a greater than expected number of revisions.
Aside from trotting out the PM Triangle concept, we can also attribute part of our success to early communication of the issue. As the early deliverables slipped, we stepped up and had the difficult conversation. Although the client wasn’t keen to hear about the issues, I’m certain he was happier hearing about them when he did, rather than on the eve of the immoveable launch date. We re-set expectations, and were fortunately able to deliver on those. In the end, we delivered a simpler site than planned. It would have been great to include all the engaging animations that were designed, but we’re satisfied that we avoided the threatened collision with our immoveable delivery date.